Lakers 75, Thunder 91: Running Diary

60017163Lakers – Thunder Gameday Page
We took a look at the Lakers – Spurs contest in San Antonio while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to win for the eighth straight time and fifth straight on the road.

Lakers: Luke Walton (back)
Thunder: Byron Mullins, D.J. White

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Thunder: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic

Game Preview
Heading into Friday night’s contest, this season’s fourth and final regular season matchup, the Lakers were looking for their 13th consecutive victory against the franchise, a streak dating back to Seattle. This season, OKC went just 7-8 in November, but are an impressive 34-19 since then, including a 19-6 mark since Jan. 29th (.760) thanks in large part to elite athleticism and length on defense and the scoring ability of Kevin Durant. For the full preview, CLICK HERE.

98077253_10First Quarter
10:31 It’s rare that Phil Jackson feels the need to call an early time out, but with the OKC crowd cheering as they might during an Oklahoma Sooners (National Championship) game, he called the Purple and Gold over for a quick tongue lashing. A basket out of the TO ensued, but the Thunder then went on a 7-0 run to claim a 13-4 lead, producing a standing ovation.

4:25 Among the reasons Oklahoma City ranks fourth in the NBA in field goal percentage against is their ability to defend the paint with solid team length, and early on the Lakers had trouble with just that, almost exclusively taking jumpers until Gasol’s left-handed hook made it 19-9 OKC. In unrelated news, the wind outside could have knocked down Gasol during his rookie year (he’s since added strength, of course).

0:58.7 Things didn’t get much better for L.A. to close the quarter, as it managed only 15 points – a season-low for the first quarter – to OKC’s 27. The Thunder got 13 from point guard Russell Westbrook alone two nights after George Hill dropped 20 in the first half for the Spurs. L.A. made only 6-of-20 shots (30 percent), and were quickly learning how difficult it is to sweep a team in the regular season (pride counts, right?).

Second Quarter
8:49 The second unit was no better than the starters, conceding nine points while managing just four in the opening minutes of the second to watch the deficit grow to 17. The pregame media meal, featuring BBQ chicken, was pretty good though.

2:36 Durant buried his first three of the evening from 25 feet, getting to 13 points on 11 shots, as the generally expected run from the Lakers still hadn’t come.

0:38.9 The Lakers would score just 34 points in the half, easily their season low (39 against Milwaukee) on 37.5 shooting, not to mention 11 turnover, eight of which came from Kobe Bryant himself. Hard to put a finger on why, but Bryant frequently lost control of the ball in his hands on several occasions and simply slipped on a few others. His broken finger, of course, could be noted for the lack of ball control, but the slips? Either way, L.A. had a lot of work to due in the face of a 53-34 deficit at the half.

98077223_10Third Quarter
6:52 The one Thunder player who hadn’t been able to find any offense was Jeff Green, who started 0-for-8 … but even he started hitting, making back-to-back jump shots to put the Thunder up 62-40. Phil Jackson often talks about how difficult it is to beat a team four times in one season, and that’s certainly been the case tonight.

2:48 Have we mentioned that L.A. couldn’t get anything, at all, to go its way? Bench players Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar, whose five collective threes against San Antonio on Wednesday were key, had yet to score despite 23 combined minutes. Meanwhile, Durant found his way to the free throw line (he’s the league leader in attempts) despite a furious Bryant at one call and entirely confused Brown on the next. The four freebies pushed OKC’s lead all the way up to 29 points at 76-47, sending Gasol and Bryant to the bench.

0:00 Not much to say here … L.A. didn’t score in the final 3:20 of the quarter, got outscored 27-13 in the third and trailed 80-47 heading into the fourth. So, yeah. The 47 points were the team’s fewest through three quarters all season.

Fourth Quarter
9:12 L.A. went on a 6-0 run to start the fourth … which is notable considering the rest of the game. Unfortunately for Phil and Co., they were still down by 27, with Bryant, Odom, Gasol, Artest and Fisher watching from the bench.

8:01 The Lakers’ run actually reached 10-0, but the deficit was still 23. Even so, Scott Brooks inserted Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook back into the game, a (very) minor accomplishment for L.A.’s bench.

0:32.4 If only they’d played the whole game like the bench played the fourth quarter, as witnessed by a 28-11 margin for the Lakers after Brown’s 3-pointer, the game’s last field goal. The Thunder still won by 16, outscoring L.A. 91-75, the team’s season-low in points (previously 79, at Denver, back in November).

The good news? L.A. only has one night to think about this one, since the Houston Rockets await in a back-to-back.

Until then, your numbers:

2 Blocked shots by Congo Cash (D.J. Mbenga). Sorry, had to get excited about something.

8 First half turnovers for Kobe Bryant, who had trouble holding onto the ball and keeping his footing.

30 Minutes played by Bryant, a silver lining since the Lakers go to Houston on a back-to-back tomorrow. Pau Gasol played just 28 minutes, while Lamar Odom and Ron Artest played 33 each.

39.2 L.A.’s shooting percentage for the game, which is actually far better than it had been thanks to a 28-11 fourth quarter. The Lakers made only 32.1 percent of their shots through the first three quarters.

47 L.A.’s point total through three quarters, getting 15, 19 and 13 points in each of the first three. They’d finish with a season-low 75 points in the contest.